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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Friend abusing a friend?

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Author Topic: Friend abusing a friend?
Kabith
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Member # 95148

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You wonderful Scarleteen peeps, you have to read novels like this every day XD I am sorry. If you want a summary of my novel, read these bullet points:
  • I know couple, and think the man is emotionally abusing the woman.
  • The man and woman are close friends of my boyfriend and have been for over six years, and I am friendly with both of them.
  • My boyfriend and the man are living together.
  • My boyfriend agrees that the man is possibly an abuser, and is definitely a manipulator.
  • I am afraid of causing rifts in friendships and an awkward living situation.
  • Halp

When I first started dating my boyfriend about a year and a half ago, I met his roommate/good friend (let's call him Ben). Shortly after, I met his girlfriend (let's call her Sally). They had been dating since high school, and seemed pretty much settled with each other, as many high school sweetheart relationships seem. She lives about 2 hours from the college we are all going to. Ben and Sally chat on Skype all the time, play online games together, and occasionally visit one another on weekends.

I've always just kind of felt "meh" about Ben. He is a decent guy, but there are some turn offs. He comes from an extremely wealthy family, but has 0 motivation. He didn't get a job till his dad forced him to, and sits on his computer all day. His family is paying his way for college, so he has no desire to work hard at it, or go at all. Sally is going to college, but I believe she (and/or her parents) are going into a lot of debt to do it (poor family), so she works hard every day at it. In general, I think Sally is a lot more mature than Ben and is a lot more motivated and ambitious. I think she sets a lot of time aside to spend time with Ben, and makes sacrifices for him ALL THE TIME, where I don't see evidence of Ben doing that.

So, that in itself bothers me a bit, but I haven't said anything. I'm still the "new one" in the group, because my boyfriend has had this group of friends (including Ben and Sally) for about six or seven years now, and I've only been involved for 2.5 of those years. I also felt like their relationship dynamic wasn't really my business, and if Sally got sick of Ben, she would leave him.

The reason I am posting now is because I have noticed (or rather, my boyfriend has noticed and told me about) a specific behavior that really made me question whether this was a simple case of "she will leave him eventually" to "maybe he is emotionally abusive and is so good at manipulating her that no one has noticed". When Sally turned 21, Ben threw a fit when she said she was going out with her friends. He said things like "I trust you, but not them." and battered and manipulated her until she gave in and didn't go out with her friends. Since then she has gone out and done things with her friends, and I don't know how he has reacted. This was the even that raised the biggest flag for me, and caused me to post.

I guess their relationship have bothered me for awhile now, but I don't know what to do about it. My boyfriend agrees that he thinks that Ben is manipulative and possibly abusive. We also speculate that it may have something to do with his family, because his (very rich) family does have some really bizarre family dynamics. I feel like I want to reach out to Sally and check up on her, BUT I am scared that SOMEONE in the group will find out- either because she tells someone, or some other way. Ben would be SOOOO PISSED at me, and I am on friendly grounds with him. Basically, if I had any influence over Sally about the relationship (whether or not she decided he was abusive and left her), and Ben knew, it would cause a tear in the friendship circle. People would take sides. My boyfriend is actually living in a house with Ben right now, so I don't know if it is wise if I say anything.

What do you guys think I should do? I was thinking of sending Sally a book (Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft, maybe?) or an article that she could read, and letting her know that she could talk to me if she wanted. That is usually what I do in situations like this, and sometimes it causes those people to drift away from me. I hesitate in this situation because of the friend dynamic and living situation. Thoughts?

Posts: 120 | From: Washington State - USA | Registered: Mar 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Hey there, Kabith. [Smile]

I am running out of brain cells for the day, and don't want to give something so important short shrift.

So, just wanted to let you know this was seen, and if a volunteer doesn't step in before I'm back at work tomorrow morning, this'll be first post on my list.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Onionpie
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Member # 41699

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Hi Kabith! This is a really really tough situation to be in, and I know how you're feeling as I've been in a very similar situation (one of my close friends is in an abusive relationship). I can tell you're a really compassionate person, and it's really awesome that you've noticed that big red flag of Ben's controlling behaviour and want to do something to support Sally in this. I think what you do here depends on what you're comfortable with, and how you feel Sally would respond.

Are you close with Sally, or just on friendly acquaintance basis? If you are close enough to Sally that you chat with her every once in a while, then I think it'd work to bring up to her, once, that you think some of the dynamics in her relationship are really troublesome and not okay (maybe if she were to bring up something about the relationship) and that you care about her and are there for her if she ever wants to talk. If she responds well, then YAY! If she doesn't respond well, then you can just let her know that if she ever changes her mind and wants to talk you will always support her, and then leave the issue until she brings it up (this is very hard. So so hard. But abusers already push their partners' boundaries constantly, so we don't want to do that too).

If you don't actually interact with Sally much at all, or only sort of in connection to or through her boyfriend or other friends, then it would seem a lot more out of the blue and unsolicited if you were to contact her and tell her you think her relationship has issues. I think that would be taken less well in that situation, you know? Perhaps in that case, if you know someone who is closer to her (your boyfriend or one of the other friends in the circle), you could discuss it with them and voice that you are worried about her and think someone should let her know that they are there as an avenue of support if she needs it.

Unfortunately, in the end it really will be up to Sally whether she breaks up with Ben, whether she wants to talk to you/any of her friends about it, and whether she will heed any advice that is given to her. So in the end there's only so much you can do. But as abusers very frequently cut off their partners from support networks, just being there and making sure she knows you/whoever talks to her will always be on Team Her, can make sure she is never fully cut off from that support system. And when an abused person does decide to break it off with their abuser, a good support system of friends who are unwaveringly on her side can make SUCH a huge difference.

I'm sure other people will have other ideas for you here, these were just my thoughts on the issue [Smile]

Posts: 1311 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kabith
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Hello Onionpie,

Thanks for the reply, and sorry for the delayed response!

I am more of a friendly acquaintance. I will talk with my boyfriend and ask him what he thinks about the situation. What would you suggest to him, since he lives with the potential abuser? I know that he would talk in private with Sally, but what if Ben found out? He could potentially be cool and be willing to talk it out, but I feel like he could also blow up and make living with him kind of hard.

Posts: 120 | From: Washington State - USA | Registered: Mar 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sam W
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 108189

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Hi Kabith,

I think your instinct for you boyfriend to talk to Sally one on one is a good one. I think you and he can decide on the specific concerns to address (e.g "hey, Sally, I wanted you to know that I think what Ben did at your 21st was really not okay. Has he been better about that lately?"). Like onionpie said, the most important thing to do is let her know that you both are people she can talk to safely about is happening with Ben. I think the one caveat is that, if you think there's a chance that Ben might become dangerous to Sally (or your boyfriend) if he finds out about the convo, you might want to think up some precautions for how to contact and talk with he.

If boyfriend thinks his intervention might cause his living situation to become untenable, it would be sound to think of a plan for what to do if that happens (will he have to break his lease? is there someone he could crash with if need be?).

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Kabith
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Member # 95148

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Ok, thanks for the insight you guys! I'll copy and paste these messages for my boyfriend to see, and we will talk about how to reach out to Sally this weekend.

Thanks for listening and helping me with such a delicate topic :*

Posts: 120 | From: Washington State - USA | Registered: Mar 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sam W
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 108189

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You're welcome [Smile] and I hope everything goes well.
Posts: 1292 | Registered: Aug 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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